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Catalyst Learning Blog


Articles, case studies, and success stories to guide and inspire healthcare HR, Organizational Development, and Clinical professionals.

ACOs: Six HR Imperatives Catalyst Learning
Earlier this year, the Obama administration released its long-anticipated proposed rules governing accountable care organizations (ACO).  This latest model for delivering healthcare services offers doctors and hospitals financial incentives to improve the quality of care to Medicare beneficiaries while keeping down costs. The national rollout will begin in 2013, but with some penalties kicking in as early as next year, the race to form ACO’s has already begun, as has the confusion.  Essentially, an ACO is a network of doctors and hospitals that assumes the risk for the continuum of care for a defined patient population. According to the new law, an ACO would manage all of the health care needs of a minimum of 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries for at least three years. HR leaders must begin to prepare their workforce for this transformation, yet a myriad of competing priorities hinders action.  A recent CEO poll conducted by The Advisory Board Company and presented at the 2011 ASHHRA Conference, showed workforce issues to be very low on CEO’s radar screen.  Dominating the CEO mindshare are revenue and outcome-related issues such as transforming primary care to drive growth and patient outcomes.  The first HR-related concern to appear on the list - developing leadership and management structures to achieve efficiency and accountability - ranks 13th on a list of 46 issues on the CEO’s agenda. As healthcare Human Resource professionals, however, we know that aggressive and immediate workforce-related action is needed to facilitate this substantial ACO transition.  Failure to adapt to new policy will impact revenues, and as early as next year-- in October 2012, hospitals with high readmission rates will face penalties of 1% of their total Medicare billings. The penalty increases to 2% the following year. The Advisory Board Company summarized its “State of the Industry: presentation with six key HR imperatives that leaders must champion in order to be successful:
  • Maximize workforce productivity
  • Expand wellness expertise to the patient population
  • Translate organizational priorities into individual goals
  • Anticipate future workforce demands
  • Equip managers to overcome change resistance
  • Drive breakthrough staff engagement
In the months to come, CLC will report on a number of ACO-related issues. Coming up next month: accountable care staffing strategies.  In the meantime, the ACO Terms to Know posted on 9/30 is a compilation of key terms that will facilitate understanding of the new regulations.

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